Telesat’s Busy Week Provides Two Big Boosts for Satellite Fleet
[Satellite News 06-15-12] FSS operator Telesat has been busy in the first half of June, during which it has launched commercial service on a North American satellite, signed a significant capacity deal for the Arctic Circle and refinanced its debt.
Telesat announced June 15 that it has kicked off commercial service on its new Nimiq 6 satellite from the 91.1 degrees West orbital slot after completing orbit raising and in-orbit testing in less than four weeks. The operator said the efficiency of the process was due to the use of its new in-orbit testing system.
Nimiq 6 was manufactured by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) and is based on SS/L’s 1300 platform. The satellite was launched May 18 from the Baikonur Space Center in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Telesat President and CEO Dan Goldberg said the satellite is an important addition to the North American video neighborhood as the entire capacity of Nimiq 6 is contracted to Canadian satellite DTH television service provider Bell TV for 15 years.
“Nimiq 6 will complement Bell TV’s existing DTH satellite fleet, adding power and capacity to better serve its customers across Canada,” said Goldberg. “Nimiq 6 is also expected to make a meaningful contribution to Telesat’s financial results in 2012 and for years to come. I am particularly pleased that we were able to start commercial service on this powerful, new satellite just four weeks after its launch, an impressive technical and operational achievement.”
Separately, yet on the same day, Telesat confirmed it had inked a key capacity deal with Panasonic Avionics Corp., securing a long-term contract on its Telstar 11N satellite located at the 37.5 degrees West orbital slot.
Telstar 11N provides Ku-band service in the Atlantic Ocean, with coverage from the Arctic Circle to the equator. Shipping and aviation firms typically use the satellite’s single-beam coverage to deploy full-time mobile broadband services over the Atlantic that support video and high speed Internet access.
“This commitment by Panasonic not only confirms the competitive advantages of Telstar 11N, but also brings the dream of transatlantic in-flight broadband and TV to reality,” Telesat Vice President of International Sales Nigel Gibson said in a statement. “Airline passengers want to be able to use their smart phones and PCs in flight as they do in their everyday lives. We congratulate Panasonic on their progress in meeting this demand and look forward to serving their needs over the Atlantic for years to come.”
Panasonic Vice President of Communications Services David Bruner said the capabilities offered by Telstar 11N give his company important operational advantages in providing in-flight video and data. “As the technology to deliver this service has improved, the business case has become more attractive for all parties,” said Bruner. “Panasonic knows and appreciates technology leadership and is pleased to be working with a company like Telesat that has many satellite industry firsts to their credit, including the unmatched Atlantic Ocean coverage of Telstar 11N.”
Last, but not least, Telesat completed the redemption of all of its outstanding 11 percent interest senior debt due 2015 that had been issued under a June 2008 indenture.
The total aggregate redemption price Telesat paid of the $454.1 million principal amount of debt was approximately $485.1 million, including approximately $25 million of the associated 5.5 percent call premium and $6.0 million in accrued interest.
Telesat said it financed the redemption using proceeds from the issuance of its 6 percent interest senior debt due 2017 in a private placement completed in May, as well as with available cash-on-hand.